The Brewers' surprise power attack this season goes beyond just Eric Thames
In related matters, Milwaukee is in first place in the NL Central
Going into Friday's MLB action, please regard the current NL Central standings ...
|NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL|
|St. Louis||21||17||.553||1||172||157||15||11-11||10-6||7-2||12-9||0-0||7-3||L 2|
|Chi. Cubs||21||19||.525||2||197||185||12||10-9||11-10||3-1||14-10||3-3||5-5||W 3|
Yep, there are the Brewers, alone atop the standings and with, by a wide margin, the best run differential in the division. That's significant for a team that was supposed to be still in the latter stages of a deep rebuild. It's also significant considering the NL Central houses the reigning world champs.
As for how all this has come about, it's mostly the power in the Milwaukee lineup that's driven their success to date. You of course know all about reconstructed slugger Eric Thames. Signed out of Korea to a $16 million deal, the 30-year-old has made good on the Brewers' faith and then some. Going into Friday's game against the Cubs in Wrigley, Thames boasted a line of .313/.432/.688 with 13 homers and 24 walks in 37 games.
Given that level of production, it's safe to say that Thames is the biggest reason that the Brewers right now rank second in the NL in runs scored, second in slugging percentage, and first in home runs. It's more than Thames, though. If you completely remove his numbers from the calculus, the Brewers would still have 52 homers as a team, which would tie the Rockies, who of course play their home games at a mile above sea level, for sixth in the 15-team NL. Also, without Thames they'd be slugging .445 on the year, which would rank fourth in the NL.
That is to say, the Brewers' attack is more than "just" the player who's on the early NL MVP watch-list. Ryan Braun cracked seven homers before going on the DL on May 11. Travis Shaw is second on the team with eight dingers, and he's slugging .545. Elsewhere, Domingo Santana, Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez, and Jett Bandy (Jett Bandy!) are all on pace to reach 20 homers for the season. To be sure, they're not all going to get there, but to date they've been hurting the ball. Wallbangers, indeed.
No, the Brewers will likely not stick at the top of the NL Central for very long, but thus far they're doling out abuse up and down the lineup. Hitting the ball out of the yard with such regularity is a good way to put wins on the board, and that's story of the 2017 Brewers thus far. Best of all for Milwaukee's purposes, the story doesn't begin and end with Thames.